This article was originally published in the February 2020 edition of ITMI Monthly.
The day of the Project Christmas Blessing event dawned with dark clouds hanging low over the grassy hills of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, promising to live up to the ominous weather predicted by the local meteorologists.
The government had even issued an announcement that schools must release students early, so they could traverse the dirt paths over the area’s steeply graded hills before the heavy rain and lightning made it too dangerous.
Students needed to traverse the dirt paths over the area’s steeply graded hills before the heavy rain and lightning made it too dangerous.
The Smiths had watched as heavy rainwater poured from heaven for the previous two days and collected in the local river, causing it to swell to impassable heights.
But the event could not be rescheduled.
It was today or never, so the Smiths and their team turned to the One who calms the storm with their predicament.
This year’s Project Christmas Blessing was going to be different than previous years by design.
Previously, the event, put on by ITMI’s Cherise and Kelly Smith and their team would piggyback on the schools’ already scheduled semester-end events.
But this year, Cherise and her daughter, Fifi Smith, had prayerfully made a change.
Fifi Wyatt, Zoey, Cherise and Kelly Smith, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
They’d worked it out so that there would be no other distractions. They’d organized it so that they would have ALL the children all to themselves.
The Smiths asked the Lord to hold off the rain until after the Zulu elementary school children had heard the Gospel message demonstrated and declared at the Project Christmas Blessing celebration scheduled for that afternoon.
And that’s just what He did!
Not only did the rain hold off long enough for the Project Christmas Blessing celebration to finish, He also allowed the swelling river to recede enough so that the Christmas gifts for each child could arrive at the school’s sports field for the celebration!
After the event started, Fifi and Cherise were surprised when the teachers, who were scheduled to have a grading day, came out to join their students at the party!
Teachers and students heard - in their own language - that we can only find hope by placing faith in Jesus.
They were taught that each of us will spend eternity somewhere and that somewhere can be in the presence of Jesus should we choose to repent of our sins and follow Him exclusively.
“As missionaries of the gospel we strive to organize events such as this, throughout the year where the message of hope in Jesus is delivered in the Zulu language to the communities who would otherwise never step foot in a church to hear,” say the Smiths.
Project Christmas Blessing is one of the longest-standing outreaches that the Smiths have been able to use to share the Good News, but their team is focused on that all year long.
Kelly, Cherise and Fifi are free to focus on creating opportunities to present the Gospel in the Zulu language because they have dedicated, faithful supporters providing the means for them to live and minister in South Africa, and helping shoulder the extra expenses of the Project Christmas Blessing outreach.
These supporters are ensuring with their sacrifice that the Gospel is being demonstrated and declared to Zulu people who otherwise might never have crossed paths with a believer and never heard that the hopelessness, fear and pain they are drowning in can be replaced with hope and peace in Jesus.
About the Authors
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.